Douglas Barrie/London

THE French, Italian, UK defence ministries and industry involved in the naval Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) programme are in intensive negotiations to resolve baseline requirements in time for a production contract signature in the third quarter of this year.

Sources close to the programme say that much effort is going into freezing the configuration of the air defence system and settling workshare issues between the nations.

The PAAMS programme is intended to provide the primary weapons system for the trinational Horizon anti-air warfare frigate project. Following clearance of the PAAMS, say sources, attention would turn to the Horizon.

Finalising the Horizon contract is likely to prove challenging. The requirements of the respective navies have diverged recently and the USA is offering the UK alternatives to the Horizon design.

The PAAMS industry proposal was submitted in December 1997. The proposal covers the development of the area defence variant of the ASTER surface to air missile - the key weapon in the PAAMS system. It also covers the integration of the ASTER missile with the Sampson radar and the production of the first 200 missiles for the first three Horizon frigates.


ASTER - the PAAMS consortium is keen to build more

So far six firing trials of the ASTER have been carried out against aircraft, cruise missile and sea skimming missile targets.

All these tests were against subsonic targets. The PAAMS system is also designed to deal with supersonic anti-ship missiles such as the Russian Raduga 3M-80 (SS-N-22 Sunburn). The lack of a suitable available supersonic target, say sources, has meant that no engagement tests have been planned.

The ASTER warhead, however, has been tested against an actual 3M-80 in a simulated engagement.

ASTER is also being considered as a lower-tier anti-tactical ballistic missile, with studies examining a two-stage weapon with a larger booster. An engagement altitude of 60,000ft (18,300m) is envisaged.


Source: Flight International